National Security vs. Privacy: The Inside Story of The Pentagon Papers

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Duration 01:20:42

Brandeis University

Stephen Whitfield is an American Studies professor emeritus at Brandeis University. His teaching awards include the Brandeis Student Union Teaching Award and the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Professor Whitfield has taught as a Fulbright visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and as a visiting professor at the Sorbonne and the University of Munich.


The Significance Of The Pentagon Papers

Published by The New York Times in 1971, The Pentagon Papers divided an already deeply fractured nation with startling and disturbing revelations about the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. The Washington Post called them “the most significant leaks of classified material in American history” and they remain relevant today as a reminder of the importance of a free press. Indeed, they are a focal point of The Post, a new film by Steven Spielberg about that era.

National Security vs. Privacy

This timely class will focus on how the necessity to ensure national security must be reconciled with the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment – a democratic dilemma that continues to demand public attention. That challenge certainly reached a flashpoint when the press leaked the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret account of the origins of the Vietnam War – while it was still raging.

The Impact Of The Pentagon Papers

No constitutional case in American history became more urgent or more important in testing how free the media were (or are) in revealing to the citizenry what the U.S. government intended, while pursuing a war, to keep secret. Nearly five decades later, the political and legal issues that the episode exposed deserve to be pondered and evaluated again. Learn more about history by checking out other great videos at OneDayU, including ‘Three Musical Masterpieces Every Music Lover Should Listen Too, ‘Unexplained History & ‘The Jewish Brain’ all on-demand now. 



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One of best OneDayU presentations

Professor Whitfield is a joy to listen to. I lived as college thru Pentagon Papers case. At the time I rooted for any underdog against the government. Now I know why I was correct. I hope Professor Whitfield will deliver more OneDay U lectures

9 months ago
Eileen Mantell

Fascinating presentation!

8 months ago
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